There’s a few tips Amy Reason is willing to share when it comes to tea.
Use just-off-the-boil water. Let the blend brew for three minutes. Do not add milk.
Reason is Zealong Tea Estate’s blend master and has been in the hot beverage industry for more than ten years.
She has concocted the Hamilton estate’s Sweet Amber tea from its Botanical Range – a lemon and ginger combination – and selected three tea blends to ship across to the United States for an international competition.
All three teas came back winners.
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The estate’s Black and Oolong tea bags received first place honours, while their Green tea bags received the highest score in its category.
The 2017 Global Tea Championship Fall was held in Colorado and pitted 245 tea bags from 16 countries against one another in a blind judging.
“I felt really concerned because all of my training was done for supermarket tea bags,” Reason said.
“Most of my palate training was done on quality control of something that was going to be sold in the supermarket. So I was totally doubting myself.”
The competition was Reason’s first with Zealong and reaffirmed that she’s “still got it”.
Reason has developed a winning strategy when brewing her teas: use boiling water to cover the leaves evenly, then wait for three minutes for the tea to work its magic.
“In the first minute of your infusion you start to get some of the colour, in the second minute of the infusion you start getting the tea flavour, but in that third minute you’re getting all of the antioxidants that make tea so great for you.”
Reason invents blends through trial and error and her colleagues are happy to taste-test.
“I’m the ultimate workplace distractor,” she said.
Her Sweet Amber tea took 22kms to develop.
“I’ve been trying to ride my bike every couple of days. One day I was riding along and I was thinking we need a traditional Kiwi lemon and ginger.
“Ginger is ginger but what lemon do I add? That took me from home to here.”
Zealong Tea Estate is situated on 48 hectares in Gordonton, on the outskirts of Hamilton. There are more than one million plants with a future in becoming tea blends.
General manager Gigi Crawford said the wins in America were significant for Zealong.
“It once again proves that New Zealand tea can hold its own amid fierce competition and on any global platform,” she said.